As already discussed, there is a tendency to leave close votes without any sort of comment explaining why.

While I appreciate the recent efforts in adding comments, I think we can head off this issue in the future (or at least give a nice nudge toward proper behavior).

When you downvote a question, a little box pops up saying, "Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved" which is great. It suggests that people should think about improving things rather than just closing them.

Can we have the same thing pop up when someone makes a close vote?

  • I posted 2 separate answers just to make it easier to vote on them, as they both involve separate ideas. – jmort253 Mar 29 '13 at 2:07
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    The major difference is the close vote exclusively comes with a reason, unlike downvotes, which can be for any reason. Comments are really just elaboration. Not A Real Question can be a bit broad, but no where near as broad as "one person doesn't like this post for any reason whatsoever", which is all a downvote says. – Rarity Mar 30 '13 at 18:13

While leaving comments are helpful, I don't believe it's critical that the same person who voted to close also be the same person who leaves a comment.

On a site where all of the users are volunteers, distributing this workload among everyone can help lighten the load and create a more sustainable process where more people are involved.

As I mentioned in the other thread, we can comment on posts we didn't vote to close and leave suggestions for improvement, even if we believe the question should not have been closed.

The other concern is that not everyone is a good commenter. There are certain people whose skills may not lie in coaching others. Some people aren't good at disarming conflict that may arise from comments that were taken the wrong way or misinterpreted as "hostile".

In short, I'd never wish to see comments be required -- which of course isn't what you're proposing -- and as long as it's clear that comments aren't required, it may be helpful to display a popup encouraging that a close voter leave a comment suggesting ways to improve the post. If that person can articulate a helpful suggestion, then he or she should by all means post a comment, if he or she has time. :)

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    I'm not suggesting it's required, just that a message should pop up saying, "If you can improve this with a comment, please do" just like a downvote. A friendly nudge to remind people that they should work toward improvement. – jmac Mar 29 '13 at 2:22
  • @jmac - Right, I edited to clarify... I'm wondering if we can try to comment more as a community before implementing a development change? I'm not sure there'd be harm in doing something like that though. Except maybe annoying people... The popup would likely need to be something that only pops occasionally.... I'm interested to see what others have to say about the popup idea. – jmort253 Mar 29 '13 at 2:25
  • If you downvote a question on TW, a small blue tooltip-esque box pops up next to the downvote arrow for approx. 3 seconds saying "Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved". I have no idea how much development work is actually entailed, and how all the sites mesh together with stuff like this, so I'm happy to work with just getting people to comment more (with the review flags for 2k users, for instance) if it's a huge development headache. – jmac Mar 29 '13 at 2:31

Building on this idea is yet another possible solution: When a post is closed without there being any comments, the post is currently automatically flagged for moderator attention. When I see these auto-flagged posts, I look at the post and try to understand why the post was closed and then offer suggestions for improvement.

Building on this idea, I'm wondering if there's any reason we can't auto-flag these posts for the moderator tools queue. (Note that on beta sites, 2K reputation is the threshold to allow users to view flags in the system).

In fact, placing the flag in the 2K/10K mod-tools queue may be more helpful, since the users who will see that attention is needed can possibly look more objectively at the post and offer feedback that is both genuine and not defensive.

As an aside, the flag queue is visible to 2K users on this site when there are 5 or more flags. However, there is a Userscript that displays flags to 2K users even when there is only 1 flag. You can read more about that and the proposal to lower the threshold from 5 to 1.

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    I like this idea a lot. A real lot. I've upvoted the thread on SO meta as well, and really think this would help. Kudos for the great idea. – jmac Mar 29 '13 at 2:27
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    you could probably just add a comment from "community" which says, "Hello! Please ensure you read the FAQ and tour pages to ensure your question is appropriate for this site. It helps to have a specific problem you are facing and not too broad a topic. Last, make sure you put some effort into formatting your question - spelling and format are greatly appreciated by all the volunteers" and cover 90% of these cases. – enderland Mar 29 '13 at 4:00
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    Hi @enderland, canned messages are cool, but we already have the post notice when a post is closed. The idea behind leaving a personalized comment is that it would identify the exact problem and tailored suggestions. While the automated post notice is broad and offers some insight, the one on one coaching from human interaction is more specific and also may help disarm someone who may not yet understand the point of community closures. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Mar 30 '13 at 2:37
  • @jmort253 that comment was a joke... but only somewhat :| – enderland Mar 30 '13 at 2:40
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    What's the saying @enderland, "a lot of truth is said in jest"? While a single automated comment may not really be helpful, having a toolbox filled with some common comments that fit certain specific scenarios may be extremely helpful; it may give the appearance we took some time to help while still saving us time. If you haven't seen the Pro-forma comments Userscript, you should check it out. :) – jmort253 Mar 30 '13 at 2:43
  • Yeah. I guess honestly I'm getting unmotivated because we seem to get a large volume of questions which do not really feel well constructed.. but then again, sometimes it's hard to get an understanding as to how TO write questions. I know I've asked my share of poor questions even being an StackExchange "more veteran" – enderland Mar 30 '13 at 3:03
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    @enderland - I think one thing we should realize is that asking questions is tough, perhaps tougher than answering them. This is why I sometimes lean more towards being tougher on answers than on questions. Additionally, sometimes we do need a break from Stack Exchange, especially when we're tempted to respond unfavorably to someone who is new. Personally, when I catch myself feeling a little snappy, I take a break for awhile and come back with a different outlook. For instance, this weekend I plan to clean my back porch. :) Real life misses me and is calling, lol. :) – jmort253 Mar 30 '13 at 4:34
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    and building on what you were saying about questions not feeling well-constructed, that could be a great topic for a nice blog post, one that maybe highlights some of our best written questions as examples and points out what the asker did well. :) – jmort253 Mar 30 '13 at 4:35
  • I would love to see a list of good questions and "how to ask" summary from one of the more experienced members around here. Do we have a volunteer? – jmac Mar 31 '13 at 23:59

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